Scroll to the very end for my 2018 book count and the top four!
The Wounds of God (Wilcock)
I love these stories. I wrestle with their theology a lot, but Wilcock’s word choice is so vivid, her characters so real, her descriptions so engaging, and when theologically sound, her thoughts are profound.
Life Together (Bonhoeffer)
I’ve also been reading “The Cost of Discipleship” by Bonhoeffer, and there is some overlap of thoughts. The biggest takeaway from Life Together was “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality created by God in which we may participate” – and so we’re not allowed to imagine or choose what we want it to be. It was also helpful to come at some of the themes from Cost of Discipleship in from another angle, like Christ mediating all relationships.
The Day the World Came to Town (DeFede)
I heard about this from my sister telling me about the Broadway musical based on the book. It’s about a handful of towns in Newfoundland that took in diverted planes after American airspace closed on 9/11. I would highly recommend it to anyone, but it was especially moving to read as someone who didn’t understand 9/11 at the time, as a way to feel what people were feeling and understand how it affected the whole world, but without being overwhelmed by the sorrow of an account of someone closer to the towers. I laughed a lot, but I also slowed down frequently to ponder and cry.
The Emotionally Healthy Church (Scazzero)
This was assigned for class, but I wish I had read it two years ago! I nodded a lot reading it, knowing that before PPD with E it would have been revolutionary, but I had learned a lot of his principles of emotional (and with it spiritual) maturity by personal experience. And perhaps, in a more biblical way. I agree with most of what he has to say but wish he came at it from starting with the Bible. It was more solid and succinct than “Changes That Heal,” though, and I would actually recommend it to someone alongside of discipleship.
His main argument is that you can’t be spiritually healthy if you’re not emotional healthy, and then lays out six principles of emotional health: look beneath the surface, break the power of the past, live in brokenness and vulnerability, receive the gift of limits, embrace grieving and loss, and make incarnation your model for loving well.
Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult (Handy)
I really enjoyed the first chapter of this, on Goodnight Moon. The whole idea of the book is lovely, to look at children’s literature and how it speaks to us on a deeper level than just nostalgia when we encounter it as an adult and can read its subtleties. But the rest of the book went downhill, mostly due to the author’s hostility towards Christianity. He explains more of that in the chapter on Narnia (which was very odd, since he seems to understand Lewis well from Lewis’s own writing), but the tone was there throughout the book and despite being about children’s literature he also included some more mature comments and themes that I did not appreciate.
I did appreciate that he had his own opinion on classics and popular books, especially there are many popular classics or “must reads” (especially in children’s literature) that I cannot stand.
How To Write a Sentence (Fish)
I had read this before but wanted to re-read it. It gave me some helpful things to think about in crafting sentences and what to think about beyond content. The book on writing I read earlier in the year helped me think more about being concise and personable, but this one helped more with the art and structure of sentences. As always, though, reading is easy but applying is not!
The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
My first impression of this book was LONG and DENSE. It was not an easy read, not just because of content. It was listed as suggested reading for one of my classes, so I decided to get through as much of it as I could in the semester and then be done no matter how far I got. But I did end up finishing it, because I found it greatly influential in forming in my mind what it means to be a disciple, what it looks like to follow Christ in our daily choices. Bonhoeffer’s theology is not entirely orthodox, but most of his book on discipleship is fine, and the discussion of Christ coming between the Christian and everything else was helpful for me. I saved my favorite quotes, so if you want to read them, let me know. I would recommend the book, but only to someone who is willing to take months, maybe even a whole year, to read it!
Half the Church (Carolyn Custis James)
This was for class, and I don’t know if any book has ever made me feel such a spectrum of agreement and frustration. Half the Church is about the Bible’s view of and roles for women, especially in how we deal with the abuses women and girls face all over the world and whether the Bible’s view of women is sufficient. Some of what she said was so so so good and inspiring and helpful in understanding how Jesus turned his culture’s treatment of women upside down and revealed the worth God has given to women. However, other parts of her exegesis were sloppy at best and she majorly misrepresented complementarianism – so I can’t really recommend it to anyone, not because she isn’t complementarian, but because she says complementarians believe some things that they definitely do not, and because there are things she says are “indisputable” about what the Bible says about women that are definitely disputable.
When God Weeps (Joni)
This is the best, most pastoral, warm, complete, God exalting book on suffering I have ever read. While you might give Lewis’s “The Problem of Pain” to an atheist who wants an intellectual debate, this is what I would give to a believer or unbeliever who is in pain or has been through suffering and is trying to make sense of it. Since Joni has suffered deeply, she isn’t content with trite answers (though it may seem like that at times, she always knows what the person in pain’s objections are and digs deeper). But at the same time, she acknowledges the mystery of God’s purposes, while delighting in His love and sovereignty.
Fire Road (Kim Phuc Phan Thi)
I read this alongside Joni’s book and it was amazing to see the spiritual journey of Kim Phuc mirroring the theology Joni was digging in to. It was not an easy read because of Kim Phuc’s suffering, but seeing God orchestrating the photo and media she hated to bring her to Christ, and her time in the morgue to save her life was incredible. Now she says her hope is to “put out fires” in the war for our souls, and seek Christ more than pain relief. One line I loved was when she talked about how worry is harm to self and neglect to your kids, but turning to prayer instead blesses ALL!
No reading for classes so I got to knock out a lot on my book list, and without podcasts I also listened to or finished a few audiobooks.
The Decline of African American Theology (Anyabwile)
This was so helpful to me in understanding the current debate over racial injustice. Some of the arguments made by both secular and churched alike have not sat well with me, and Anyabwile’s book helped me understand why, showing how much of modern African American theology (which has greatly influenced current culture) began to put experience as more important than the Bible. But it also revealed the sins committed by white Christians against black Christians, in rejecting them from seminaries, treating them as sub-human, and attempting to evangelize them for ulterior motives. I am so thankful for how God worked against those sins to bring change and give us much to learn from our African American brothers and sisters.
No Turning Back (Abouzeid)
Belz’s book “They Say We are Infidels” focuses on the Iraq side of ISIS and the various wars in Iraq from a Christian perspective. Abouzeid’s book focuses on the war in Syria, from the perspective of Islamist fighters, rebels, and children. It was graphic at times and difficult to read because of the atrocities committed and how the world has done so little to help, especially the empty threats made by the UN and America, and how attempts to help were given up on because it was “too hard.” It helped me barely begin to understand how complex the war is, and how the rise and fall of various rebel factions gave way to ISIS and the inability to do much against the regime.
Washed and Waiting (Hill)
Most of the traditional/conservative side of books on homosexuality come from the angle of people like Rosaria Butterfield, whose same sex attraction was changed. Hill’s book discusses what it is like to struggle with same sex attraction as a Christian. It isn’t a very thorough argument as to why he believes SSA is wrong, but you can find that many other places. He mostly focuses on a vision for celibacy for those struggling with SSA, and how it is different (but also the same) as the unmet desires all of us struggle with. I don’t agree with him 100%, but would recommend this book highly, especially to understand the hard, but glorious and Christ-exalting life our brothers and sisters struggling with SSA are going through.
Logic on Fire (Media Gratiae)
This came with our DVD of Logic on Fire, which is a documentary about Dr. David Martin Lloyd-Jones. There are a few comments from the producer, composer, etc. about the documentary, but the bulk of the book is four of Lloyd-Jones’s sermons. In many ways, the theme in all four of them is what it means and looks like to be a Christian, which Lloyd-Jones rightly argues is not external form, morality, or theology, but loving and knowing God.
Reading the Bible Supernaturally (Piper)
This was the free audio book of the month through Christian Audio in the spring. I like audiobooks, but don’t feel that I get as much out of them because I can’t take notes. However, that means I do get the bigger picture better, although Piper summarizes that big picture very well in his proposal: “Our ultimate goal in reading the Bible is that God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.”
He talks some about the practical side of reading and the kinds of questions to ask and other tools, but mostly he talks about why to read, how it’s supernatural, and how our Bible reading can result in “white-hot worship.”
Very good, very in depth, very theological.
Prone to Wander (Duigud, Houk)
A collection of prayers of repentance. Ezra’s cousin gave this to us for Christmas last year (and we gave a few copies for Christmas this year!). Each part opens with a scripture, generally to reveal a sin, and is followed by a prayer of confession that often involves the Father’s love and justice, Christ’s example and sacrifice, and the Spirit’s help. At the end of each prayer is an assurance of His forgiveness, using another passage of scripture, and has some hymns suggested to go with it. I used the book privately, but it also seems like a useful tool for corporate worship.
Helping Your Children Love Each Other (Milburn)
I found this on my mother in law’s bookshelf during a week of more than usual squabbling between the girls. It didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, but was helpful encouragement, especially in a few areas I had felt something might be going on but wasn’t sure (like sibling over-exposure, or fighting to get attention). There are a few tips and tricks to kids that get along but mostly it’s hard work. 😉
Love Thy Body (Pearcey)
This book was SO good. It was terrifying at times to think about the future of our world if current trends in euthanasia, abortion, and gender issues continue, but she had helpful ways of thinking through them and understanding how at root they are all based in a false creation theology and viewing the mind and body as separate with feelings/mind higher than the physical body (an example of the fact/value or upper/lower story split). These two interviews summarize it well (one and two), as does this article, but I would recommend reading the whole book. It helped me understand the logic of arguments for abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc. by understanding the worldview they stem from and how they are the logical conclusion of that worldview. And she says it all with compassion, making it clear that her goal is not winning an argument but helping people care for their bodies and souls.
I saw this in the store and then a few people mentioned they wanted to read it, so got it from the library. It wasn’t what I expected: mostly photos, with only a little on actual tips for decorating. It was more about thinking about what you want your home to feel like and communicate than what to do or not do. There were still a few practical tips, but mostly for troubleshooting when you are designing a room. I also didn’t feel like any of the examples would really feel like a home; they all looked like a hotel or rental house. I was hoping for ideas on working in more personal items like family photos and smaller pieces of art. I suppose it was also a bad time to read it since we just moved in. I did move a few things around, though, mostly to allow for more open space.
In His Image (Wilkin)
I was so excited to read this book but didn’t know when it would happen, but my friend had it so I read it while I was staying with them – mostly at 2 AM one night I couldn’t sleep. It’s the companion to “None Like Him” by Jen Wilkin. “None Like Him” focused on the incommunicable attributes of God – the ones we don’t share with Him – and “In His Image” was about some we DO share with Him. It was very good, but the content was much more familiar so it wasn’t quite as formative as “None Like Him” was. There were also a few things that I thought were worded poorly, in a way that could be taken in a wrong way, but generally the following paragraphs clarified what she meant. Still highly recommended!
Jo’s Boys (Alcott)
I enjoyed this much more than Little Men, but I do still think there’s a reason Little Women is the most well-known of the series.
I was interested in reading this to S, but then found out that the version I grew up with, while beautifully illustrated, was abridged. I decided I should read the unabridged version before I tried reading it to her, so I did. I enjoyed it, especially since my memories of Heidi were very faint, although pleasant. I’m not sure she’s ready for it quite yet but it is on my list to read to her at some point.
The Holy Sonnets (Donne)
While some of these were not theologically correct, they were all thought-provoking and beautifully crafted. My favorites: 6, 8, 10, 11,12,14,15.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Hurry and the Monarch (O’Flatharta)
Miss Spider’s Tea Party (Kirk)
Judy Allen – though some mentions of millions of years
The Popcorn Book (dePaola)
Urso Brunov (Jacques)
Kim Lewis – Shepherd Boy, Just Like Floss
Miss Rumphius (Cooney)
The Little Snowplow (Koehler)
Nourishing Traditions’ kids’ cookbook
Pretend Soup (another kids’ cookbook)
The Golden Glow
Findus Disappears (Nordquist)
The World is Awake (Davis)
In the Middle of Fall (Henkes)
Tea Party in the Woods (Miyakoshi)
The Squirrels’ Busy Year (Jenkins)
Findus’s Birthday Cake (Nordquist)
The True Princess
Goha the Wise Fool
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving (Metaxas)
Cranberry Thanksgiving (Devlin)
Festus and Mercury: Ruckus in the Garden (Nordquist)
My Grandfather’s Coat (Aylesworth)
Dreams (Ezra Jack Keats)
Merry Christmas, Festus and Mercury (Nordquist)
Ella and Monkey at Sea
Lily: the Girl Who Could See
Katherine von Bora
For when they’re older:
Let My People Go (McKissack)
The Grand Mosque of Paris (Ruelle)
A Boy Called Dickens (Hopkinson)
David A. Adler’s biographies
Our 50 States (Cheney)
Shakespeare Stories (Garfield)
Total count for 2018: 86!
The three that were most influential were probably
– Women and God (Nielson)
– Delighting in the Trinity (Reeves)
– The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
Bonus: novel: The Wounds of God (Penelope Wilcock).